LTA to develop a road map for electric vehicles

Woo Sian Boon Today Online 14 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE — Electric vehicles are set to be given a bigger push here, with the Land Transport Authority (LTA) seeking to develop a blueprint on how to bring about mass adoption of such vehicles in Singapore.

Among the things the regulator wants consultants to study are the gaps in technology, implementation issues of installing charging infrastructure, as well as an assessment of the energy savings and carbon emissions levels with the adoption of these green vehicles, according to tender documents published last Thursday.

Since 2011, the authorities have been studying the feasibility of electric vehicles on Singapore roads, with the data from the first phase of a test-bed currently under review. This will determine the plans for further trials, which the LTA said could involve car-sharing and commercial fleets.

The LTA’s latest move to develop the road map was hailed by industry observers and researchers, with Mr Liu Xueliang, General Manager of electric-car manufacturer BYD Asia-Pacific, saying that Singapore has the “best potential” to implement electric vehicles islandwide because of its advanced power grid system.

Dr Emilio Frazzoli, Lead Investigator at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology, expects the rate of adoption here for electric vehicles to keep rising and at a “very high” level within three to five years.

Noting that the automobile industry is releasing more models of electric vehicles — Ferrari’s latest supercar, LaFerrari, for instance, includes an electric motor — he added: “While most are city cars, there are some electric vehicles with performance and handling characteristics that are comparable and, in some cases, superior to those of luxury sport cars.”

In terms of charging infrastructure, however, the Republic is “still some time away”, said Dr Park Byung Joon, who heads the Urban Transport Management Programme at the Singapore Institute of Management.

Pointing out that cities such as Shenzhen in China have successfully adopted public electric buses and taxi services in 2010, Dr Park questioned if the Government or public transport operators will have to foot the bill when it comes to constructing the necessary infrastructure and pay ing for the electric buses.

Electric car-sharing company Smove has concerns about the high cost of electric cars being an impediment for the average consumer. It is the only such company here and has a customer base of 450 since it started its electric car-sharing trial 15 months ago.

Its founder Tom Lokenvitz reiterated a call for the authorities to review the taxes imposed on such cars so they will not be “disadvantaged for a long time”.

Those in the industry had suggested that electric vehicle batteries — which are costly — be excluded in tax computation.

Responding to queries, the LTA told TODAY there are no pre-defined targets as to when electric vehicles will be adopted here. However, the tender documents stipulate that the consultant will have to provide data up to 2050, with “midpoints to include at least 2030”.

The spokesperson added: “Ultimately, whether a new technology succeeds or not will depend on the market. We will continue to monitor global trends and see how the market evolves.”

LTA plans roadmap for adoption of electric vehicles
Royston Sim The Straits Times AsiaOne 16 Mar 14;

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) plans to develop a technology roadmap to help chart a course towards the adoption of electric vehicles in the future.

It is seeking a consultant to produce what it called an "electro-mobility" research roadmap which will assess the benefits of having electric vehicles, identify technological gaps and challenges, as well as make policy recommendations.

This comes several months after a test to gauge the viability of electric vehicles was completed. Data from the test is currently being reviewed, and will be used to formulate plans for further trials.

Asked about how the roadmap will help with the adoption of electric cars in the long term, an LTA spokesman said it has not set any targets yet.

"Ultimately, whether a new technology succeeds or not will depend on the market," she said. "We will continue to monitor global trends and see how the market evolves."

According to the new study's terms of reference, the roadmap has several main objectives, including providing a blueprint to enable electric vehicle technologies, concepts and solutions up to 2050.

It should describe the challenges Singapore would face in building an electro-mobility ecosystem, relating to the power grid sector, charging infrastructure and consumer acceptance, for instance.

The roadmap is supposed to include an assessment of the economic and environmental benefits, and the costs involved in the large-scale adoption of electric vehicles.

And it should also have recommendations on how to spur the use of electric vehicles, including through government regulations, if there are significant benefits to Singapore.

This research roadmap is funded by the National Research Foundation, and should be completed by the second quarter of next year.

Dr Park Byung Joon, head of the urban transport management programme at SIM University, believes the move shows the LTA is more serious about building infrastructure for electric vehicles on a larger scale.

For such vehicles to be practical, it should be as easy to access electrical charging points as it is a petrol station, he said.

However, he pointed out that getting private car owners to go electric will depend largely on cost, and current electric vehicles are usually more costly than those with conventional petrol and diesel engines.

Dr Park feels it is more feasible to implement an electric vehicle network for public transport, such as buses. He cited how Shenzhen in China adopted public electric buses and taxis in 2010.

"I do not see any serious practical problem in running public electric bus services in Singapore," he said. "The question is how much investment we are willing to put in to have such services."